On August 27th, Fulbright University Vietnam welcomed new students of the Class of 2027 with Fulbright Convocation 2023 ceremony themed “Flex. Converse. Immerse.” The event allowed new students to look back on their memorable journey thus far. Each student is joined by their peers. Together they will start their next endeavors and immerse themselves in the Fulbright spirit.
Flex – Be proud of one’s own journey
The Fulbright community firmly believes that each student is a unique individual, with unique backgrounds, perspectives, goals, and journeys. Whether they be success or failure, happiness or challenges, all experiences deserve to be celebrated and cherished. They build courage, resilience, and determination towards maturity. Therefore, Fulbright Convocation 2023 encourages Class of 2027 to “flex,” to take pride in one’s experiences.
Dr. Scott Fritzen, President of Fulbright University Vietnam, conveyed a similar message to the new students in his opening speech. “I want each of you to step into our institution knowing this: the Fulbright community takes pride in each of your individual values. Your success is our success – there’s no other definition. So, be proud of yourself – and we will be proud of you, both in good times and challenging moments. When you ‘flex,’ we also ‘flex’ – because you belong here.”
Most importantly, “flex” signifies self-pride. It’s not about competing with others but rather recognizing one’s own worth and using it as a foundation for future steps.
Flex – Building Foundations for Future Breakthroughs
As evidence of this spirit, Tim Waale, representative speaker of the Class of 2027, recalled his personal journey. Tim used to be an 18-year-old student who doubted his abilities and who faced repeated criticism when he started out in professional basketball. But now, Tim is the captain of the Saigon Heat, leaving his mark with outstanding performance and social contributions. Tim achieved his current success through rigorous training and hard work. Tim Waale can cheer himself on in future steps because he has evidence of his abilities and dedication. The ultimate goal of “flex” is to strive for self-improvement.
Converse – Mastering Information and Knowledge in the AI Era through Interdisciplinary Interactions
We are living in an era where artificial intelligence is rapidly advancing. Knowledge is everywhere, and anyone can access it. Yet even though AI can provide information to humans, it may not always provide the answers or the right direction. Disparate pieces of information will never become knowledge without being part of a nexus of meaningful connections, especially interdisciplinary ones. That is why Fulbright emphasizes and aims to provide an interdisciplinary education environment. This enables students to have a broad perspective, the ability to connect ideas, and the flexibility in mindset.
Take Computer Science and Engineering at Fulbright as examples. These courses not only provide specialized technical training but also offer insights into society make-up, history, management, communication, and more. Upon graduation, students not only possess solid knowledge in their respective area but also understand how their industry operates in practice and its related fields of work.
Converse – Deep Conversations and Knowledge Exchange
The importance of interdisciplinary exchange is further emphasized in President Fritzen’s remarks to Class of 2027. He said, “A Fulbright graduate, regardless of their specific major, can lead and solve any issue – because they will have the ability and confidence to evaluate and synthesize discussions across multiple fields, as well as work effectively in groups to tackle complex tasks.”
Furthermore, beyond reception, information only transforms into knowledge through critical exchange, deep discussions, and real world application. Education doesn’t merely provide knowledge; it instructs students on how to ask questions, seek answers, and apply knowledge to solve problems. At Fulbright, the liberal arts model prioritizes small class sizes and open curricula. Class of 2027 are encouraged to interact with professors and peers to foster curiosity, exchange perspectives, and absorb selectively curated knowledge.
Immerse – Becoming Part of the Fulbright Community
President Scott Fritzen encouraged new students to make the most of the valuable opportunities Fulbright has to offer. Getting to experiment, make mistakes, and grow are the greatest values of the student experience.
Fulbright aims to create an environment where students can develop both physically and mentally, both academically and in student life. The university campus sees student groups supporting each other in learning, engaging in conversations, and having fun. Professors immerse themselves with students to exchange knowledge and experiences. The academic programs are designed to center around experiential-learning projects to encourage teamwork and the practice of soft skills. Students’ well-being is carefully nurtured by the Wellness Center. And students have vibrant and exciting living experience through Residential Life activities.
Immerse – Fulbright is Always by Your Side
In particular, Fulbright values personal development and encourages students to be flexible in their journey to discover their own worth. Tim Waale, representative of the 2027 cohort, at 25 years of age, decided to return to Fulbright for academic pursuits due to a deep belief in an environment that can provide solid academic training while leaving room for students to pursue their passions. “I truly believe that everyone should have a well-rounded life as well as a well-rounded education. Follow your passions and your dreams. Take risks and break out of your comfort zone. Try a new sport, learn a new musical instrument. Never say ‘never.’ Who says you must choose one or the other here at Fulbright University, Vietnam’s first liberal arts university.”
The closing of the 2023 Convocation featured performances by talented students from the 2027 cohort. The diverse performances served as a declaration of this year’s incoming class: Whether you are uncertain on the path to self-discovery or have a thousand passionate desires to conquer, do not fear or doubt. Embrace and “flex” all that you have experienced because they are the unique aspects of your journey to adulthood. Dare to exchange ideas with friends and teachers. Live fully in each moment. And Fulbright as a community will always be ready to accompany and support you!